Lukashenko discusses bill regulating passenger transportation


Belarus' government has drafted a decree regulating passenger transportation by road. The draft decree was discussed at a meeting hosted by Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko on 14 November, BelTA has learned.

A proposal was put forward to compile a register of carriers, dispatchers and other market players. “I think you will decide who will be included in it. We should exclude the possibility of flouting the rules,” the head of state noted. “Whoever is not on this register will be outlawed, they will be identified and suppressed by respective watchdog agencies,” Aleksandr Lukashenko added.

“In other words, if you are allowed to transport people by taxi and minibuses, if you are on the register - go ahead and work. Certain rules will be established. If you are not on this register but you still run a transportation business, Kubrakov [Minister of Internal Affairs] and Tertel [KGB chief] [will deal with you]. Tough measures will teach them a lesson. Yet I reiterate: do not give them a reason to say that we are suppressing someone or stamping out someone, etc. Everyone who got permission to run a transportation business can go ahead with it, everyone is on equal terms. Any attempt to get past the rules will be clamped down on,” the Belarusian leader warned.

One of the topics of the meeting concerned transportation aggregators. “It is obvious that everyone who wants to work in Belarus needs to place their information systems in our jurisdiction. This rule should be enforced by the new year. No Polish, German, Dutch companies. This is a must, as the government should be able to guarantee security and safety, protection of personal data, prevention of illegal actions. How are things on this front, what is the position of aggregators?” Aleksandr Lukashenko asked.

The head of state gave an instruction to take control of this domain.

He asked to present the positions of all interested parties on the draft document. “Does the draft decree cover everything? Will it be enough to ensure safe transportation and transparent, legal work?” the head of state asked.

He noted that the draft decree was developed by the government in collaboration with the State Control Committee and the State Security Committee.

At the beginning of the meeting, a report was delivered by Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Sivak who is in charge of the transportation sector in the government. According to him, passenger transportation grew by 2.6% in January-September 2023. He also revealed the number of legal entities and individual entrepreneurs that have licenses for regular route transportation.

Chairman of the State Control Committee Vasily Gerasimov noted that some work illegally pretending that they operate on non-fixed routes. “When they register they say that they will take people to weddings, corporate parties, and provide travel services. But in reality, their vehicle departs 50 minutes ahead of a regular route carrier and gets all the passengers. They are not registered for a fixed route,” the official said outlining the problem.

The deputy prime minister recalled that in 2017 Decree No. 7 was signed to liberalize passenger transportation by road. “The government tried to accommodate the interests of the business community, but businesses misinterpreted it as permissiveness. And violations were not long in coming,” he noted.

“We have warned them,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.

Anatoly Sivak said that in most cases, transportation services on non-fixed routes (it applies mostly to taxis) are provided by foreign entities, the so-called dispatchers. Their information systems and resources are often located outside Belarus. There are currently no restrictions on the operation of non-resident companies that provide transportation services (dispatchers), and no permits are required. As a result, these foreign entities are only interested in making money irrespective of whether their operations are legal or not.

“Information about orders and customers is stored on servers outside Belarus, which directly affects national security,” the deputy prime minister noted.

“You mean, if you order a taxi or take a minibus, this information is collected and kept on foreign servers?” the head of state asked.

Anatoly Sivak confirmed that this was indeed the case: “A person's money and information about a person's trip went abroad, specifically to the Netherlands. When the sanctions were imposed, this changed - the money started flowing to Russia. In addition, if you pay, for example, Br10 for a ride, this company keeps 20-30% of the amount, roughly Br3, and returns Br7 to the carrier. Such was the payment scheme. Other transportation services providers also use this scheme.”

The deputy prime minister also mentioned the deteriorating situation with passenger safety, as evidenced by the number of road accidents, deaths and injuries. The number of complaints from people regarding the availability of services and transportation schedules is also growing. There are also many financial violations. “The existing sizes of fines and penalties do not allow us to discourage violations in this field,” Anatoly Sivak remarked.

The draft decree that was discussed at the meeting seeks to straighten things out in the field of passenger transportation by road.

“There are plans to develop a state register of passenger transportation, which will include information about carriers, vehicles (buses, cars and taxis), drivers and dispatchers. This will be a complete list,” the deputy prime minister reported.

He explained that inclusion in the register of buses will allow to identify cases when a transportation company that has broken the law simply re-registers and continues to work under a different brand in violation of the law.

In line with the draft decree, companies will have to give access to information about orders to the authorities, while orders can only be transferred to those carriers that are on the register.

To reduce the import of services and minimize the risk of leakage of personal data, foreign companies will be able to provide dispatcher services for non-fixed routes (taxis) only if they create a legal entity in the territory of Belarus. They will also be required to use information systems and resources located in the territory of Belarus.

In line with the draft decree, carriers will be obliged to video record trips. This is expected to enhance transportation safety.

The draft decree spells out mechanisms for suspension and exclusion from the register of mala fide carriers.

Anatoly Sivak is confident that these measures will make carriers comply with the law and will bring some of them out of the gray zone, create equal business opportunities for all players in the transportation market, and increase the safety of passenger transportation.

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